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2020 was the year of pain, misery and GOP indifference

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Just about every American wants to forget 2020 and put it in the rear-view mirror. But painful as it is, wisdom dictates that we keep it in mind as we lumber into the new year.

This year was the year of pain, suffering and depraved GOP indifference. The big lesson learned from 2020 was the failure of the Republican Party to respond to the grief of millions of Americans battered by the deadly pandemic that has cost the lives of more than 300,000 people and more than 10 million jobs.

If the debate leading up to the passage of the pandemic relief package was a movie, the title would be “The Mitch Who Stole Christmas.”

Back in May, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives passed a pandemic relief package worth north of $3 trillion. The Heroes Act would have provided for payments of $1,200 to individuals, paid sick days and family and medical leave.

Eight months later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had to be forced into passing a bill that contained less than $1 trillion dollars, which was too little and too late. 

A few nights before Christmas, McConnell’s obstinacy “Scrooged” Americans. He left only a lump of coal for the millions of Americans who are struggling financially because of President Trump’s failure to fight the deadly pandemic.

The final package included a one time check for only $600. Democrats had requested a payment at least twice that large. There was nothing for cash strapped state and local governments, which would have been forced to lay off thousands of employees without further federal assistance.

The pandemic is escalating, jobs are in short supply and the poverty rate is sky high. But all the Senate majority leader would cough up for people was a paltry check for their troubles and tribulations.  

The meager GOP offer came at a time when millions of Americans are suffering emotionally and economically from the pandemic that continues to escalate.

The soon to be former-president spent the year casually downplaying the pandemic instead of aggressively fighting it. The cost of his failure to fight the pandemic was enormous. Millions of Americans were left to mourn the loss of loved ones and millions more lost the jobs that provided economic security for their families.

As of Sunday, The Coronavirus Tracker at Johns Hopkins University countered almost 19 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more deaths in the U.S. The situation is getting worse. So far in December, there have been a record 5 million new confirmed cases and more than 64 thousand fatalities.

The economic carnage from the pandemic is also overwhelming, too. The U.S. lost through November and 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since May.

Last Friday, Trump made a bad situation even worse when he failed to sign the new pandemic relief package. The damage from his failure to sign the package was immediate. Saturday, unemployment aid expired for 12 million Americans under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Programs which would have continued if Trump had signed the new congressional relief package.

The congressional package that Trump threatened to veto also included funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and protections against evictions.

The president’s top negotiator with Congress, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, favored the new congressional aid package and a White House spokesperson had announced that Trump had agreed to sign the legislation.

Then the president threw a hand grenade and blew up weeks of negotiations he had sanctioned. 

He declared that he wanted $2,000 checks for individuals instead of the $600 in the agreement. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promptly attempted to amend the legislation to include the payments that Trump wanted, but her request for unanimous consent to the change was blocked by Republicans in the House who suddenly have concerns about the size of the federal budget deficit. This, after blithely ignoring the sea of red ink that has accumulated under the Republican president.

Trump finally signed the bill Sunday night but the delay cost millions of Americans a week of emergency unemployment benefits. 

Many Americans will remember 2020 as the year the COVID-19 ruined their lives. They won’t forget that Trump and congressional Republicans did everything they could to make 2020 even more miserable than it already was.

Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is the host of the podcast Deadline D.C. with @BradBannon and the Progressive Voices network. 

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus crisis coronavirus economic crisis coronavirus stimulus package COVID-19 COVID-19 vaccines Donald Trump joblessness Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi pandemic unemployment relief package Steve Mnuchin Steven Mnuchin stimulus relief Unemployment

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